Do Countertop Ice Makers Need A Drain?

Get an ice maker, they said. It will be amazing, they said.

Think of cocktails and iced lattes, they said.

Well, ice makers can indeed be amazing, and, true enough, they are a fantastic way to kick your cocktail and coffee game up like…10 notches, but what the little voices whispering in your ear fail to tell you is that, sometimes, they can be a real pain to install.

Some ice makers need to be plumbed into your water line, and others may also require some form of drainage system.

Suddenly, that ice maker seems like more trouble than it’s worth, huh?

Your poor little kitchen simply may not be able to accommodate one, at least not without some expensive modifications.

However, there’s no need to give up on your dreams of icy-cold refreshments just yet, as all it takes to install most ice makers is a run-of-the-mill AC wall outlet and a flick of a switch! Is this the case with countertop ice makers? Read on to find out.

Will My Countertop Ice Maker Need A Drainage System?

I’m happy to report that 99.9% of the time, countertop ice makers do not require any form of drainage whatsoever — hooray!

Yep, you simply pop them down, plug them in, feed them some water, and off they will go, preparing some frosty cubes to give your party a chilly edge.

You may also like to know that you won’t need to hook your countertop ice machine to your water supply either, and being that you won’t have to pay for installation, you can inject more funds into your budget and snag yourself an all-singing-all-dancing ice-making monster!

Which Ice Makers Do Require Drainage?

The only ice makers that need a drainage system are under-counter models, as they often have no way of altering ambient temperature.

After a while, the ice melts, and being that they make it in such high quantities, there ends up being a significant amount of stray water.

This water needs to go somewhere, otherwise, the ice cycle would suffer and the chances of a leak rise exponentially.

What’s more, as these machines are often used in commercial environments, it’s important that the water used to form the ice is fresh, meaning recycling the water isn’t an option.

The last thing you want is a customer complaining that their ice tastes funky.

Okay, But Why Don’t Any Other Ice Makers Require Drainage?

All other kinds of ice makers are totally drainage-free. Refrigerators, for example, are fully equipped to control temperature, which means they can keep the ice from melting once it’s formed.

This is true of both refrigerators with built-in reservoirs and those that link to a water line.Countertop (portable) ice makers are interesting, as they usually don’t have means of preventing the ice from melting, but neither do they require drainage.

To understand why, it helps to know a little bit about their water supply.

What Happens To Melted Ice In Countertop Ice Makers?

As they’re not plumbed into the building’s water supply, countertop ice makers rely on their built-in reservoirs to draw water, much like a lot of refrigerators with ice-making capabilities.

When the water reserve runs dry, it has to be manually refilled, unless, that is, you don’t use up all the ice from the first batch.

Unlike under-counter ice makers, countertop machines are usually home devices, so immaculate freshness isn’t exactly essential.

As such, if you don’t quite get through all the ice in one go, you can leave it to melt, and the ice maker will cycle it back into the reservoir, where it will stay until you trigger a new ice cycle.

It’s unanimously agreed that thawing and refreezing foodstuffs is a terrible idea, as the flavor dissipates, the texture goes funny, and more nasty bacteria sink their teeth in with each phase shift, but that’s not necessarily the case with ice.

Granted, the quality of ice definitely isn’t going to get any better upon a second freeze, but you don’t have to worry about any of that other more sinister stuff, so, as long as you don’t mind using reincarnated ice, it’s all good.

Having said that, I’d recommend putting a cap on how many times you recycle one load of water, as it will eventually go stale.

I don’t know if you’ve ever accidentally sipped on a glass of old water before, but I have, and it was straight-up awful, so do yourself a favor and switch up the water if it’s been in your ice maker for a while.

How Do Countertop Ice Makers Work?

As we’ve already discussed, the ice cycle of a countertop ice maker begins with you filling up the built-in reservoir, then the machine takes it from there.

  • A pump draws water from the reservoir through a line and out onto the ice crafting platform.
  • A number of metal heat exchange rods (usually between 6 and 10) sink into the water.
  • A condenser cools the rods by repeatedly phase shifting refrigerant.
  • Usually, within 6 to 12 minutes, ice particles begin forming on the rods.
  • Once the ice has fully formed, the cooling cycle jumps into reverse, gently heating the rods.
  • The thin layer of ice holding the cubes to the rods melts, and the ice cubes tumble into the ice bucket below
  • You grab the ice, make a delicious cocktail, and have a great night!
  • Leftover ice cubes melt, and the meltwater is circulated back into the reservoir for round two.

Nice, I Think A Countertop Ice Maker Might Be for Me After All… But, Which One Should I Get?

There are a number of fantastic countertop ice makers on the market, but some of my personal favorites include…

Euhomy Ice Maker Machine

EUHOMY Ice Maker Machine Countertop, 26 lbs in 24 Hours, 9 Cubes Ready in 8 Mins, Electric ice maker and Compact potable ice maker with Ice Scoop and Basket. Perfect for Home/Kitchen/Office.(Sliver)

This frosty bad boy is capable of freezing 9 ice cubes every 6 minutes, which is very speedy indeed.

It can also produce “chewy” drive-in style ice if that’s what floats your boat, and you can choose between large or small cubes.

Advanced infrared optical sensors know when the ice bucket is full and halt ice production accordingly, preventing any dangerous overflows, and thanks to the super-efficient compressor, it’s one of the quietest countertop ice makers on the market.

Vivohome Countertop Ice Maker

VIVOHOME Countertop Ice Maker 26lbs/Day 9 Ice Cubes in 6 Mins Ice Maker Machine with Hand Scoop and Self Cleaning Ice Cube Maker Red

At 16.9lbs, this ice-making masterpiece from Vivohome is the ultimate portable counter-top unit, so if you ever wished that you could take your ice-making on the road or to a friend’s house, this is the machine for you.

You can choose between small and large bullet-shaped ice cubes, and the user-friendly LED array informs you when the bucket is full or the reservoir is nearing empty.

It can also be bought in red brushed steel, which, in my opinion, looks awesome.

IKER Countertop Ice Maker, 2 in 1 Ice Maker & Shaver

IKER Ice Makers Countertop, 2 in 1 Ice Maker & Shaver Machine-33lbs/24H, 12 Bullet Ice Cubes in 10 Mins, Compact Portable Nugget Ice Maker with Crusher for Home/Kitchen/Office/Bar

If you’re looking for something a little bit more up-market, then feast your eyes on this amazing machine.

Not only does it make ice cubes in record time, but it can also shave ice too, and we both know what that means… SLUSHIES!!!

Summing Up

To sum up before we go our separate ways: Countertop ice makers do not need a drain, as the meltwater is recycled back into the reservoir, which both saves you time on refills and limits water waste.

Now you can shop for your ice maker with confidence and live out your dreams of an iced latte every morning before work — perfect!